Zinc supplementation can be ineffective in the treatment of diarrhea. A randomised controlled trial published in the open access journal BMC Medicine has shown that supplementation with either zinc or zinc and copper is no more effective than placebo.
Archana Patel, from the Lata Medical Research Foundation, India, led a team of researchers who studied the effects of the different supplements on a group of 808 children in Nagpur, also in India. She said, "The expected beneficial effects of zinc supplementation for acute diarrhea were not observed. Therapeutic zinc or zinc and copper supplementation may not have a universal beneficial impact on the duration of acute diarrhea in children".
The authors found that neither duration of diarrhoea, total stool weight, use of oral rehydration salts nor use of intravenous fluids were affected by supplementation. The authors said, "There could be many reasons for the lack of effect observed in our study. Although our study controlled for baseline serum zinc concentrations, these are not always a reliable measure of body zinc status. As such, baseline zinc deficiency in our subjects may have affected our results. Different diarrhea etiologies and the impact of interactions of zinc with multi-vitamins shown in previous studies may also explain the difference between our study and others that have shown a positive effect."
The authors have called for a re-examination of all available trial data, including this one, to dissect out the potential contributors to heterogeneity of results before zinc can be universally recommended for treatment of acute childhood diarrhea.
Notes to Editors
1. Zinc and copper supplementation in acute diarrhea in children: a double-blind randomized controlled trial
Archana Patel, Michael J Dibley, Manju Mamtani, Neetu Badhoniya and Hemant Kulkarni
BMC Medicine (in press)
During embargo, article available here: http://www.
After the embargo, article available at journal website: http://www.
Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.
Article citation and URL available on request at firstname.lastname@example.org on the day of publication
2. BMC Medicine - the flagship medical journal of the BMC series - publishes original research articles, commentaries and reviews in all areas of medical science and clinical practice. To be appropriate for BMC Medicine, articles need to be of outstanding quality, broad interest and special importance. BMC Medicine (ISSN 1741-7015) is indexed/tracked/covered by PubMed, MEDLINE, BIOSIS, CAS, Scopus, EMBASE, Current Contents, Thomson Reuters (ISI) and Google Scholar.
3. BioMed Central (www.biomedcentral.com) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.